Saturday, August 09, 2008

There is something wrong with the malays Muslim community in understanding Islam. They have this selective understanding thus making their view on Islam skewered which is ok but i wish they open up to new ideas (old ideas perhaps but rehash) in interpreting certain facts and not taking every law as finite or complete. Syariah law needs to grow, in fact any laws what so ever must be made living to remain relevant. People Assume when I talk about Syariah it is mean hudud, which is just plain ignorant. I republish here an article which is close to my heart. I will comment on it after I have all the facts on my table but I am happy with this author.

New Sharia law marraige contract gives Muslim women rights Print E-mail
Posted by Super Admin
Friday, 08 August 2008 12:29

Muslim women are to be guaranteed equal rights in marriage under a new wedding contract negotiated by leading Islamic organisations and clerics in Britain.

By Urmee Khan, Telegraph UK

Hailed as the biggest change in Sharia law in Britain for 100 years, a married Muslim couple will now have equal rights. A husband will have to waive his right to polygamy, allowed under Islamic law, in the new contract which has been described as "revolutionary".

Currently Muslims in Britain have an Islamic ceremony called a nikah (a non register office marriage) which, although it is guaranteed under Sharia law, is not legally binding and does not provide a woman with written proof of the marriage and of the terms and conditions agreed between the spouses.

Dr Ghayasuddin Siddiqui, Director of the Muslim Institute and author of the contract, told The Daily Telegraph: "It will challenge various sharia councils who don't believe in gender equality but the world has changed and Islamic law has to be renegotiated."

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, was criticised earlier this year when he called for greater recognition of Sharia in British civil legislature, a view that was echoed recently by the Lord Chief Justice Phillips.

Ann Cryer, a Labour MP who has campaigned for the rights of Muslim women, welcomed today's change, saying: "This document has been carefully researched over a four year period and I feel confident in recommending its findings to women (and men) of the Muslim Faith contemplating Marriage."

In cases of divorces, the absence of such proof, has meant that many Muslim women have been denied financial rights.

The new Muslim marriage contract does not require a 'marriage guardian' (wali) for the bride, and also makes delegation of the right of divorce to the wife (talaq-i-tafweeed) automatic.

This right does not affect the husband's right of talaq but enables the wife to initiate divorce and retain all her financial rights agreed in the marriage contract. These provisions reflect a recognition of changes in the Muslim world, including women's greater public roles, educational achievements and financial autonomy.

Drawn up by the Muslim Institute, the contract has taken four years to negotiate and create. It is supported by leading Muslim organisations including the Imams & Mosques Council (UK), Muslim Council of Britain, The Muslim Law (Shariah) Council UK, Utrujj Foundation, and The Muslim Parliament of Great Britain.

According to its authors, the new contract "brings Muslim marriages in Britain into line with positive developments in Muslim family law across the Muslim world".

Dr Siddiqui said "A lot of people come to us and the Islamic Shari 'ah Council for advice and we realised that Islamic marriage had lots of problems.

"Many Muslims in this country have a 'village' background, with Muslims from Sylhet in Bangladesh or in Pakistan where the local Imam performs a nikah, without proper registration or properly recording that such a ceremony has taken place.

"But in Britain, more marriages are breaking down and young people have said that we need to update things."

Dr Siddique outlined several cases where the cleric was a friend of the husband and there were no witnesses present.

"In many cases, Muslim men have put a woman on 'trial' to see 'if a marriage works out' and will not agree to have a civil ceremony" he said.

"One woman told me that she came home one day to find the locks had changed and there was a note saying ' your stuff is at my sisters house'.

"This contract is revolutionary and will lead the way in addressing problems that exist under sharia law. Although it is only the tip of the iceberg, it is a revolutionary step, nothing like this has happened in 100 years. The adoption of this model will change everything and force people to talk about the issues."

Religious leaders and community groups have also said the document will be useful in securing rights for Muslim women.

Dr Usama Hasan, director of The City Circle, an organisation for British Muslim professionals, said: "Too many fathers have abused their right of wilayah (guardianship) over their daughters and too many husbands have abused their right of initiating divorce for us to continue with law rooted in patriarchal societies. It is high time that Muslim women enjoy the same rights and freedoms under Islamic law as they do under present legal systems in the UK."

Note :

Type and content

While it is customary for marriage contracts to be written down, particularly when the bride and groom wish to make any stipulations, classical jurists required only oral offer and acceptance for the contract's validity.[citation needed]

Among the stipulations that can be included in the contract is a prohibition on the husband marrying other women[3] (a wife has the right to annul the marriage if her husband violates this condition), or other rules that can include giving up, or demanding, certain responsibilities.[4] The contract may also be used to regulate the couple's physical relationship, if needed.[citation needed]

The marriage contract can also specify where the couple will live, whether or not the first wife will allow the husband to take a second wife without her consent, whether or not the wife has the right to initiate divorce, and other such matters. The marriage contract somewhat resembles the marriage settlements once negotiated for upper-class Western brides, but can extend to non-financial matters usually ignored by marriage settlements or pre-nuptial agreements.


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